Posted in Women in Judaism

A Woman’s Place

I find that women’s spaces are ones of pain. Too many of us have been hurt and carry that with us. Too many have been wronged, especially by men in their lives. Almost every one of us can tell a story of when we were abused, either physically or emotionally, or both.

Women’s spaces are ones of doubt. Women not believing in themselves, second guessing what they are doing, trying to prove that they are better – even though they are already great. It is about knowing that we do have to be better if we want to be respected, because people on the outside do doubt us.

Women’s spaces are full of asking for permission. They are about looking to an authority for approval. They are waiting for someone to invite or acknowledge. They are about allowing someone else to decide what you can do and remembering to play the game, as you don’t want to be too strong on your own. They are about proving one’s worth, hoping that someone else will see that and help you push through – because that is the only way.

Women’s spaces are places of need. Needing the people in charge. Needing the people around. Needing affirmation. Needing explaining. One is told to be independent, but then told that you shouldn’t be too independent – no one will hire you; no one will marry you. You need to be weak on the outside, but strong on the inside, but there is only so long before the outside seeps in.

Women’s spaces are about proving that you are able to do what men can do, maybe even better. Women’s spaces are about showing that you don’t need men, even though most of the time, they are the ones in charge. Women’s spaces are about showing how different and special they are, because they are not seeing it themselves or hearing it from the outside.

I wish that this wasn’t the case. I wish that women’s spaces were filled with confidence. I wish that they were filled with a place of respect and not belittling. I wish it was a space that allowed me to have autonomy and not feel like a child. I wish they were spaces that were not about recovering from hurt and brokenness. I wish they were places that we can just do what we are doing without any of this hanging in the air.

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Posted in Life

My Voice: Autonomy

I am tired of having other people tell me what I need to be doing.

I am tired of feeling like my schedule is up to someone else to make. Someone else decides what classes I am going to. Someone else decides what internships I am having and goals there should be. Someone else decides that I need to move countries, just to sit in a room so “people get to know me”.

I miss living on my own and having my own space. I miss being able to get to places easily on my own. I miss not needing to rely on my parents for everything. I want to be able to come home from school and just have some quiet time, instead of having to sit in a car and make conversation, sit at dinner and talk, and then feel bad about wanting to be in my room, because the truth is I am very grateful, but I need to have my own time.

I miss being able to do what I want without everyone knowing everything. I miss not having to talk about my day if I don’t want to. I miss not feeling like a little girl because I am back to living with my parents and needing them for almost everything I do.

I want people to listen to my experiences and see them as real. I am tired of telling people things and only after maybe the fifth time do they recognize what I said. I feel like nothing I have done is recognized. That people see me as just beginning. I know that I am not the best, but I have done things.

Today was just a very frustrating day of feeling like I have no voice. I miss working and feeling that I am my own person. I miss  being able to have my own life separate from my parents. I miss feeling like I am doing something in the world and not just sitting.

Maybe this was triggered by the traffic that made me frustrated. Maybe it’s PMS. Maybe it was triggered by process group and listen to another person who is in an abusive situation with a staff person, and no matter who she has gone to, there is nothing for her to do. Maybe it’s because I am finally settling into my reality. Maybe it is because I just feel like there are too many unknowns in my life so just everything seems too much…

 

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

My Non-Existent Bucket List

I don’t really have a bucket list. As I am at the airport waiting to move to New York (once again), I am thinking about all the things I did while I was here. Some were things that I had always dreamed of doing, and others were things that never even crossed my mind.

  • I got to go to Australia! Something I have always wanted to do- well really, I just like traveling. And even better, when someone else pays for it. 🙂
  • I swam in the Great Barrier Reef. (So amazing to see and be part of basically another world).
  • I walked through the Daintree Rainforest (I didn’t even know that it existed…)
  • I taught at an Embassy, with an Ambassador there. He even read my bio and introduced me. (Totally never assumed that would happen)
  • I was basically the assistant rabbi of a shul!
    • So maybe this is the biggest one of all. This is what I have been training for and wanting to do for years, and here I did it. I found a shul and a rabbi that was willing to trust and believe that I have the skills and knowledge to have this role.
  • I feel whole again. Two years ago broke me. Last year I was mending. This allowed me to feel myself again. I have my confidence back. I am not angry at the world. I know and think that I can do this thing that I want to do.
  • I got to tour the restricted area of Parliament. (It’s Canberra, how can I NOT know someone that works there and will take me on a tour)
  • I was told by a MP that my sermon brought tears to his eyes. He then told me to be in touch and if I have a blog or something, I should send it to him, as he would want to read it.
  • I went to cocktail parties and VIP events, where I mingled with international governmental officials.
  • I have multiple, close friends, that work for embassies and governments.
  • I danced in the rain without clothing.
  • I got to see kangaroos, platypus, echidna, emus, and possums (not opossums- they are a different animal.)
  • I saw the Sydney Harbor and Sydney Opera House.
  • I went to Bondi beach.
  • I have lived in my third capital city.
  • I went to an event and sat only three rows away from the prime minister.
  • I sat in the front of the shul, next to the aaron, in a big green chair (they made a small mechitza for me).
  • I ran a two hour teacher training on basic Judaism.
  • I taught school kids about basic Judaism.
  • I taught 2-3 adult ed classes a week.
  • I gave weekly sermons and wrote weekly d’vrei Torah for a newsletter.
  • I lived on my own.

I’m sure there is more, but I need to go to the plane.

So, here’s to time travel and moving to NYC- take 2.

Posted in Life

My Voice: To Publicly Blog or Not to Publicly Blog

As I am finishing up my position here in Australia, many of the congregants have been telling me that I should have a blog or a podcast. They want to be able to still learn from me. It was also in this job that I was writing a sermon that I delivered in shul and wrote for the newsletter almost weekly.

A MP who heard me speak over Yom Kippur, told me if I have a blog or something, I should send it to him, because he would be very interested in reading what I have to say, as he so enjoyed my sermon. He also told me that professionally it will be good, it is how people are making a name for themselves.

School is trying to get us to write more, making it a requirement that we have at least one article published in some form of newspaper/blog/newsletter/journal.

This blog is anonymous. None of my friends or family know that it exists, and if they find it, they do not know that it is me that is the author. For some reason, the idea of putting my name to my thoughts makes me uncomfortable. I still think why would anyone want to hear what I have to say. I don’t think that I have that much to share with the world in terms of writing.

But as I am getting more and more people telling me to have a blog of sort, maybe now is the time that I should? Or at least, should start sharing my ideas in public, with my name attached.

Posted in Life

On Being Afraid

I have to say, I am very afraid of what is happening in the US right now. The hate that has become more public terrifies me.

I am scared as an individual. What does it mean to live in a country that hate me because of my religion? (A statement that I have heard people talk about, but until now never thought about for myself). What does it mean to belong to a country that openly says that those who are not the same deserve to be killed or injured? Will I have to be afraid to talk to people? Will I have to be afraid to go out in public? Will I have to fear for my brothers or father or friends who go out with a kippa? Are the stories of the start of the rise of Hitler coming again, but no longer as a story being told, but a story that I am witnessing?

I am scared as a soon to be clergy member. I am afraid of what that means to be a target. I am afraid of not knowing how or being able to comfort people who turn to me for help. I am afraid that I am not strong enough to fight a fight, that seems like it can’t be won (although I wholeheartedly feel like it MUST be won). I’m afraid that I am not eloquent or knowledgeable enough to actually say things.

I haven’t been posting any articles on Facebook. I feel like the same ones are being passed around. I haven’t been speaking out mostly because I don’t feel like I have the words. I read articles and see videos and it makes me afraid. In some ways I want to post everything. In other ways, I feel like it won’t do anything.  I want something real to do, even though that idea scares me – which is hard to do from abroad. I know that people are hurting and are in pain. I know that people are trying to create change. I know that there are people fighting. I know that there are people creating safe spaces. I know that there are people joining together to try and make sure that “Never Again” actually means that – not only for the Jewish people, but for all who are being persecuted.

And at the same time, only yesterday there was a question on CNN if Jews are people; or a rally that ended with “Hail Trump“, and that is not to mention the graffiti that was found across the US.

I pray that this stops. I pray that we are able to take those who are full of senseless hate out of positions of power. I pray that the government is built in a way to make sure that things like this are not allowed. I pray that those who are afraid, will not fear any more. I pray that those who are fighting, will not lose strength. I pray that we as a human race, will learn how not to hate.

 

Posted in D'var Torah, Women in Judaism

From Sara to Rivka: Unfinished Thoughts on Parshat Vayera

While sitting in shul this Shabbat I realized the amount that women in this past week’s Parsha, Parshat Va’yera.

There is Sara. First we hear about her cooking for her guest. Then her getting taken by Avimelech. Then she gives Hagar to Avraham, and eventually kicks Hagar out. Avraham is commanded by God to listen to the words of Sara. Then Sara is “remembered” and gives birth.

There is Hagar. She is given over to Avraham and conceives quickly. She is then sent out, and has a conversation and promise from God.

There are Lot’s daughters that are almost sent out to an angry mob for them to do what they please. Lot’s wife who when leaving Sodom turns around and turns to a pillar of salt. And then again Lot’s daughters deciding that the world has ended and they need to repopulate the world, so they get their father drunk and sleep with him.

At the very end of that Parsha we hear about the birth of Rivka, who will take a prominent role in the upcoming weeks.

Now the truth is, most of these stories are not so happy. There is a lot of conflict or a bit of sadness that comes with them all. At the same time we see a lot of power given to each of these women. It is because of each of them that story is able to continue. Each one of these women acts in their own will. They do not ask for permission to act, they just act. They are spoken to by God, not through another person.

I don’t have a good conclusion (I need to work on that, these are just some intial thoughts), but there has to be something to learn from this (and not that women can’t make good choices because then bad things will happen).

 

Posted in Daily Prompt, Life

Fish Heads, Fish Heads, Roly Poly Fish Heads…

My first thoughts of fish is the song “Fish Heads“. A very weird, but VERY catchy song.

My next thoughts of fish are that for Rosh Hashana, the new year. Traditionally one eats the head of a fish (or a full fish, or both) to be blessed that they should “be the head and not the tail” [some communities eat a lamb head] and that they should “be fruitful and multiple like fish.”

It is hard for me to believe that I am going to be leaving Australia in a week and a half. Part of me feels like I have been here forever, and part feels like I just got here. I am able to walk to places without having to use Google maps or get lost. I can go meet people and can tell them where I am and how far it will be. Going food shopping does not take an hour as I know what foods (for the most part) I can buy. I bump into people I know in the street. I have people to call to go out for a drink or go to an event.

I am so thankful that I was given this opportunity. Professionally this has been amazing. I have also realized that it gave me back my strength to do such a job. I am realized again that I am able to do this. I know enough. I am eloquent enough. I am capable enough. I have also realized that it is not all so bad (maybe it is just because we are outside the main communities of Jewish life). I have enjoyed the freedom that comes with having a real job. I have enjoyed people treating me in a way that shows that I can do these things and they don’t need to be checking up on me. I have enjoyed not second guessing myself or having to proof myself too much.

Socially it was not the best, it was actually quite hard. Even though I found friends, it is still quite lonely at times. Many are coupled, and so it is just me alone. There are no single Jewish men in the area, which means that I have not gone on any dates or had any form of that type of relationship- and I miss that. Also most of the young people are not religious/observant, which means that Shabbat meals is not a priority for them. So there were weeks that it was almost me alone in my apartment. It means that there are really cool events that are on Shabbat, holidays, or full of food that I can’t go to.

Also there is something of being seen as “the rabbi”. Now I know that this will follow me to whatever community I go to, but being exposed to what it really means to be in that role was interesting. I know that for years, there are poeple who regard me as “the rabbi” and so they change the way the speak or act with me. But here it was even more pronounced because I actually filled that role. So I know there were outings that I was not invited to, I don’t think because people don’t like me, but rather they assumed (maybe rightly so) that I would not feel comfortable going or they would not feel comfortable with me being there.

And now I am preparing to move to NY (again). I have to say that I am very nervous, much more so than when I moved to Australia. I am still waiting to hear about the apartment (I chose the more expensive one). I hope that I made the right choice of where to live. THe communities are just so different, and I want to pick one that I will be able to feel comfortable and be able to be myself. I also hope that I am able to feel at home there, as I don’t really see myself as a “big city girl”.

I am nervous about going back to school. I am nervous about being in process group and having to deal with lots of very emotional people’s emotions. I am nervous about being in school from 8:30-5. I am nervous about being somewhere where I need to ask permission for everything that I do. I am nervous about losing my freedom and being under someone else again. I am nervous about having to sit through classes that I find boring and listening to people who just like to talk. I am nervous about having to talk about feminism and femaleness. I am nervous about having to go back to a world of fighting or helping others fight.

I am nervous about going to the US. I read the articles and posts about what is going on across the US right now and I am afraid. I am afraid of what it means to be Jewish, not only today, but in the years to come. I am nervous for others who are being persecuted, and what that will mean for the country to turn on everyone. I am nervous that I will not have the strength to help when I am needed. I am nervous that I will not have the knowledge of how to help. I am nervous that I will want to just shut it all out because it feels too big for me.

When I get back to the US it is also time for me to start looking for a job. A real job. A rabbi job. The job I have been training for over the past 5 years. I say that I want to go back to Israel, but I have no idea how that is going to be possible. The jobs in the US and Europe start opening their applications now, while if I look for a job in Israel I wouldn’t start till right before I am ready to move. That means I need to just hope that something opens OR give up on that goal and accept my fate of not being in Israel.

I have to see what jobs are opening to. How much do I take a job just to have a job and how much to a take a job because it is what I want to being doing. Some people tell me I don’t have the right to be picky, I don’t agree with them, but maybe I am wrong.

Some of the jobs that are opening are in great places, but only if you have a family. And so, once again my marital status (or lack there of) affects my job options. I am also nervous about what happens if I meet someone. How do we work that out, if they need or want to be somewhere, and I need or want to be somewhere else. I don’t think I am someone who is “trying to want it all”, I don’t think it should be too much to want to be married and have a profession (but again, maybe I am wrong and I just need to pick one).

So back to fish. As once again I am about to embark on starting again, I pray that I come out like the head and not the tail.

via Daily Prompt: Fish